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Kline, Itkin, Gomez, Sheller win $8 Billion verdict against J&J in Risperdal case

A 12-person Philadelphia jury awarded $8 billion in punitive damages against Johnson & Johnson and subsidiary Janssen Pharmaceuticals, the maker of Risperdal, an anti-psychotic drug linked to the abnormal growth of female breast tissue in boys known as gynecomasta. Tom Kline and Jason Itkin of Arnold & Itkin LLP, of Houston were trial counsel along with Chris Gomez, of Kline & Specter. Stephen Sheller of Sheller PC in Philadelphia is co-counsel. The verdict came in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court and was the first Risperdal trial in which a jury assessed whether to award punitive damages and the amount. Approximately 7,000 Risperdal cases are pending in the Philadelphia court system. In his closing statement, Kline told the jury that J&J and Janssen conducted a plan to make billions of dollars while off-label marketing and promoting Risperdal to children. Kline and Itkin issued the following joint statement following the verdict: “Johnson & Johnson is a company which has lost its way. This jury, as have other juries in other litigations, once again imposed punitive damages on a corporation that valued profits over safety and profits over patients. Johnson & Johnson and Janssen chose billions over children.” Among the many news accounts

Specter, Baldwin, Guerrini, Cavaliere settle death case for $75 million

Shanin Specter, Kila Baldwin, Dominic Guerrini, and Michael Cavaliere achieved a $75 million settlement in a Pennsylvania wrongful death case. Other details are confidential. The resolution is believed to be the largest pre-trial settlement of a personal injury case in Pennsylvania history.

Crawford wins $4.7 million med-mal verdict in Montco

Elizabeth Crawford won a $4.7 million verdict against an Abington Hospital doctor in the case of a Glenside man who died because of the delayed diagnosis of a severe bacterial infection. The verdict was a rare victory for a plaintiff in a medical malpractice case in Montgomery County. The case involved John S. Wilson, Jr., a 58-year-old carpenter and a husband and father of two adult children, who went to his primary care doctor, Mary Tobkin, on Nov. 21, 2009 complaining of severe back pain. His wife, Rebecca, testified that he also was sweating, shaking and had the chills, symptoms Dr. Tobkin denied in her testimony. Wilson was prescribed pain pills and an X-ray was taken, but no further action was taken until four days later when he went to the hospital. Doctors there discovered a spinal abscess that had developed into meningitis. Wilson was given antibiotics, but it was too late. He died on Dec. 1. The three-week trial rested largely on the word of Wilson’s widow, who said her husband did complain of fever and chills despite Tobkin’s denials. The Legal Intelligencer quoted Crawford as saying that Mrs. Wilson ”ended up being, in the jurors’ eyes, more credible than the physician.” Crawford further told the news media: “This unanimous verdict sent a clear message – that the defendant primary care physician should have paid attention to her patient’s symptoms, instead of just simply presuming. This case was about believing in your client and sends an important message to the medical community about how important it is for a physician to both ask questions and listen to your patient.”(Read article)

Williams reps whistleblower in Medicare fraud case

David Williams represented a whistleblower in a case in which UTC Laboratories Inc. (doing business as RenRx) agreed to pay $41.6 million for allegedly paying kickbacks in exchange for laboratory referrals for pharmacogenetic testing and for furnishing and billing Medicare for tests that were not medically necessary. The company’s three principals, including one doctor, also agreed to pay a total $1 million. RenRx, headquartered in New Orleans, further agreed to a 25-year period of exclusion from participating in any federal health care program. In a news release, U.S. Assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt, said: “The payment of kickbacks in exchange for medical referrals undermines the integrity of our healthcare system. Today’s settlement reflects the Department of Justice’s commitment to ensuring that taxpayer monies are well spent and not wasted on unnecessary medical testing.” Williams represented one of five whistleblowers who brought claims under the federal False Claims Act that UTC and its principals between 2013 and 2017 offered and paid remuneration to physicians to induce the ordering of pharmacogenetic tests in return for their participation in a clinical trial and that UTC paid remuneration, including sales commissions, as part of a scheme to furnish tests that were not medically necessary. The Medicare program was billed for those tests.

Appeals court upholds bulk of vaginal mesh verdict

Pennsylvania Superior Court rejected Johnson & Johnson’s bid to discard a $20 million verdict in a vaginal mesh case tried in 2017. However, the court, as was expected, did reduce the verdict – comprised of $2.5 million in compensatory damages and $17.5 million in punitive damages – to $15 million because New Jersey caps punitives at five times that of a compensatory award. Still, allowing the bulk of the verdict to stand was a victory for the plaintiffs. Several plaintiffs’ firms litigated the case for Margaret “Peggy” Engleman, of Cinnaminson, N.J., with Kline & Specter’s Chris Gomez handling a key cross-examination during the three-week trial in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court. Kline & Specter’s Charles “Chip” Becker argued the case for the plaintiffs before Superior Court. After the appellate court’s decision, Shanin Specter told The Legal Intelligencer: “Over and over and over, juries have found Johnson & Johnson recklessly made and sold plastic mesh products that have caused permanent and crippling pelvic injuries in women. It’s heartening to see these verdicts upheld by our trial and appellate courts.” Although the verdict was reduced, the three-judge appellate panel ruled that Ethicon either waived its arguments or failed to meet its burden to convince the court to change the verdict, calling arguments by J&J “hypocritical” and “duplicitous.” Superior Court Judge Deborah Kunselman, who wrote the majority’s 31-page opinion, dismissed the company’s suggestion that compensatory damages were excessive. She wrote: “To be clear, that is NOT [caps, italics and bold-face hers] our standard of review; it is the legal test for the trial court.” 

Roundup lawsuits against Bayer in the thousands

Kline & Specter is taking cases involving Roundup, the weed killer believed to cause cancer, specifically non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The number of cases against manufacturer Monsanto, owned by Bayer AG, continues to swell, with the latest estimates reaching 18,000 lawsuits filed. Kline & Specter, with five full-time doctor lawyers on staff, is reviewing hundreds of cases of possible victims and is preparing cases to take to trial. Said Tom Kline: “We are committed to obtaining justice for our clients from all parts of the nation who are struggling with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma themselves or have lost loved ones to this cancer caused by Roundup.” (Learn more about Roundup lawsuits)

Williams installed as Barristers’ president

David Williams was sworn in as president of the Barristers’ Association of Philadelphia. The organization was founded in 1950 with the mission of addressing the professional needs and development of black lawyers in the region through seminars, cultural events and publications. Williams was elected president last year with his term to start in September 2019. Nearly 200 people attended the swearing-in held at Ceremonial Courtroom in City Hall. In a speech, Williams called membership in the Barristers’ both “an opportunity and an obligation. It is an opportunity to showcase our talents and unite in fellowship; it is an obligation in the sense that we in this room who have benefited from the shared sacrifices of those who came before us owe it to each other and to future generations to carry the torch of progress forward.” And although he cited progress among black Americans, Williams noted: “The struggle for equal opportunity remains incomplete. The precious gains made by our forefathers and mothers are endangered and under assault.” For one, Williams, a partner at Kline & Specter, noted the number of black partners and associates at Philadelphia law firms remains “stagnated” at 1980s levels. He also pointed to the most recent 43 White House nominations to fill federal appellate court vacancies – not one of whom is black or brown. Williams, who attended West Point and the University of Pennsylvania Law School, where he was elected president of his class, exhorted the Barristers’ membership to consider their own legacies and to “get off the sidelines” in helping fellow attorneys and members of the community in need of assistance. “The time,” he said, “is now, now, now.”

Kline gives keynote at PA Bar Association Minority Attorney Conference

Tom Kline closed the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s two-day 30th Minority Attorney Conference with a keynote speech “My Hometown.” Kline explained that in the days when “coal was king,” Hazleton, Pa., was once a booming Northeastern Pennsylvania town that welcomed immigrants from all parts of the world – Poland, Germany, Lithuania, Ireland, Italy and Russia. Kline’s family was among a small band of Jewish immigrants that settled in Hazleton in the late 1890s and 1900s, including his grandfathers, Abe Kline and Morris Levin. But as the need for coal declined, so did Hazleton, its population dwindling from 38,000 in 1940 to just 23,000 in 2000. But then the town experienced a dramatic population turnaround fueled almost entirely by Latinos mostly from the Dominican Republic. However, many in the previously all-white town did not welcome the newcomers, some of whom were in the country illegally. So town officials in 2006 enacted the Hazleton Illegal Immigration Relief Act. It prohibited these immigrants from leasing or buying property and fined employers who gave them jobs. It also made English Hazleton’s official language and mandated all town business be conducted in English. The ACLU challenged the ordinance and it was thrown out by the federal courts. Kline described the swing from the region’s heavily Democratic, pro-union makeup to one that evolved to backing anti-immigrant rhetoric. “Part of the solution,” Kline told his audience, “may be convincing the people of the new Hazleton to see their grand- and great-grandparents’ journey in their new neighbor’s journey. And that is no small task. That will not come easily and will not happen overnight. But it is the only path forward if this small microcosm of America is ever to return to its cultural and political norm.”

Kline honors Mongeluzzi at Musmanno Award dinner

Tom Kline honored long-time friend and colleague Robert Mongeluzzi with a speech before some 400  people attending a dinner at which Mongeluzzi was awarded the 2019 Justice Michael A. Musmanno Award given by the Philadelphia Trial Lawyers Association. The award is considered as among, if not the, most prestigious that can be bestowed on an attorney in the nation. Musmanno was a first-generation American who worked his way from the coal mines of Pennsylvania through Oxford University and Harvard University and then as a judge in Allegheny County and finally the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. The award, whose prior recipients include both Kline and Shanin Specter, is given annually to someone who personifies “high integrity, scholarship, imagination, courage, and concern for human rights as exhibited by the late justice.” In his speech, Kline recognized Mongeluzzi’s courtroom victories, particularly in construction and workplace injury cases. He noted cases in which they worked as co-counsel, including the May 2000 Pier 34 collapse that killed three women and resulted in a $29.6 million settlement and the Amtrak 188 disaster in May 2015 that killed eight people and injured more than 200 and resulted in a $265 million settlement. “Having worked hand in hand with Bob … I can attest firsthand not only to his enormous skill and ability, but also to his insight and tenacity, which, coupled with compassion and caring about his clients, makes him a unique and very special lawyer and friend,” Kline told the dinner audience. “Bob Mongeluzzi stands out truly as one of the great lawyers of our generation, rooted in a city with a tradition of great lawyers.” 

 In new book, Specter denounces “puny” vaginal mesh settlements

Shanin Specter is featured in a new book titled “Crystal Mesh” about lawsuits over transvaginal mesh products surgically implanted in women who later suffered severe injuries when the plastic-like medical device eroded inside their bodies. In many cases, the mesh could not be removed even after corrective surgeries, leaving behind “shards” of hardened material that caused severe pain and left the women unable to have sexual intercourse. In the recently published book, by Jennifer Banmiller and Alicia Mundy, the latter an award-winning author and former Wall Street Journal reporter, Specter is critical of law firms that accumulated large inventories of cases and then took “puny” settlements from manufacturers of vaginal mesh products, generally as little as $40,000 to $45,000 per case or even less. Specter told of one lawyer who stockpiled so many cases he was unable to handle discovery for all of them. “He reached out to me,” Specter says in the book. “He really wanted to litigate them, and try many of them. But he became overwhelmed. Therefore, he had to accept an inadequate settlement.” Kline & Specter, with more than 40 attorneys, has refused to settle its vaginal mesh cases with major manufacturer Johnson & Johnson, instead conducting discovery and preparing cases for trial. So far, the firm’s attorneys have won verdicts in nine cases against J&J, including those for $120 million, $80 million, $57.1 million, $41 million, $20 million, $13.5 million and $12.5 million. The book also delves into great detail (eight pages) into the case of Ella Ebaugh, a Pennsylvania victim who won the $57.1 million award.

Temple Esq. magazine features Bezar

Nadeem Bezar was the subject of an article in Temple Esq., the alumni news magazine for the James E. Beasley School of Law at Temple University. Titled “We Have to Protect These Children,” the article detailed Bezar’s two decades of successful practice in medical malpractice litigation and his more recent focus on advocating for victims of child abuse and human trafficking. In the story, he discusses how his practice changed 15 years ago when he agreed to represent a three-year old girl who was killed while in the child welfare system. “That work became my passion,” he says, adding, “I do it because we have to protect these children, we can do better by these victims.” The article listed a number of Bezar’s significant verdicts and settlements against child welfare and foster agencies. “This is a way to create change,” he said. “Powerful and meaningful reform comes through civil litigation, holding agencies accountable. The hope is that a victim of abuse for whom I have gained some relief will break the cycle and not abuse another generation.” (Read the complete article)


Kline appears on medical malpractice judicial education panel 

Tom Kline was among a panel of attorneys participating in the Continuing Judicial Education program sponsored by the Administrative Office of the Pennsylvania Courts in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Fellows of the American College of Trial Lawyers, the prestigious organization of trial attorneys of which Kline is a member. The forum was titled “Current Issues in Medical Malpractice Law: Point, Counterpoint.” Working with Kline were Pittsburgh attorneys John Gismondi and John Conti, and Heather Hansen, an attorney from Plymouth Meeting, Pa. The four-hour event addressed recent developments in the law, including recent cases decided by the Pennsylvania appellate courts. Kline presented on peer review privilege and other topics of interest to the statewide trial judges who attended in person and by videoconference.



Tom Kline
addresses students from 16 law schools at the “Battle of the Experts” competition hosted by the Thomas R. Kline School of Law at the Kline Institute of Trial Advocacy. The unique trial competition showcased the critical role of expert witnesses in litigation, with students examining and cross-examining professionals with expertise in a wide range of fields.


I second that emotion ... Tom Kline and Ben Simmons share a 
similar reaction to the 76ers' win in the season opener. 

Charity and Volunteering:


Hundreds turn out for Bayada Regatta

Kline & Specter was honored to support the Bayada Regatta, the nation’s oldest and largest all-adaptive rowing competition for athletes with disabilities. The event, held at the St. Joseph’s University Boathouse on the banks of the Schuylkill River, brought out more than 300 rowers and volunteers. Next year, which will be the event’s 39th, is expected to bring out an even bigger crowd. Even a team from Australia has contacted the event directors about entering for 2020. “… There were plenty of smiles and a true feeling of camaraderie,” said Anita Palmer, 2019 Bayada Regatta coordinator. She added that “this was a great event for the rowers, their families and friends! Many family members stop to tell me how important and meaningful this event is to their families each year, and how thankful they are for the regatta.”

Kline & Specter and Regan Safier helped sponsor the Philly Friendship Walk, an annual event kicking off fundraising efforts and community awareness for the Philly Friendship Circle, an organization in which Safier and her family are actively involved. The non-profit group builds friendships among disabled and non-disabled people in the Jewish community

Kline & Specter is a proud supporter of the Foundation for Criminal Justice.

“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention.”
 — Oscar Wilde
 See our website page on Volunteerism 

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